The Empire State Building in New York City pulled a fast one on New Yorkers on Monday before the sun had even come up.
The skyscraper, located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street, turned on its dancing new LED lights for a matter of seconds.
The LED system wowed with its ‘‘16.7 million color possibilities, in digital combinations of ripples, sparkles, sweeps and strobes,’’ Phil O'Donnell, of Burlington, Mass.-based Philips Color Kinetics that’s responsible for the system and worked with a resident lighting designer, told the Associated Press. ‘‘It’s the sum of all possibilities -- a huge palette.’’
The old floodlights, added in 1964 to illuminate the top of the building at night, in colors chosen to match seasonal and other events, such as St. Patrick's Day, Christmas, Independence Day and Bastille Day, came in only 10 colors.
According to Anthony Malkin, whose family controls the Art Deco style building, New Yorkers from Manhattan and the Bronx to Staten Island and even New Jersey were “looking up, filming and videoing.”
In an interview with the Associated Press at his office, he glowed with pleasure describing Monday night’s inaugural light show, which was accompanied by R&B star Alicia Keys singing ‘‘Empire State of Mind’’ on nationwide radio.
Keys also sang ‘‘Girl On Fire’’ from her new CD.
Before her performance, Keys said tha the iconic 1,454 foot building “has always been a symbol of what’s possible in New York and all the dreams that can come true in this city that never sleeps.’’
According to the AP, Malkin and his technical team wanted to test the new lighting system with as few people noticing as possible and chose early Thanksgiving morning.
“We decided to do it facing west, in very short bursts between 2:30 a.m. and 3 a.m., because we knew we didn’t have a camera trained on us from there,’’ Malkin told the AP.
The revamping of the Empire State Building floodlights is reportedly a part of a larger effort to modernize the 81-year-old edifice that is undergoing a more than half-billion-dollar renovation that includes making it ‘‘green.’’
The AP reports that the LED system will cut energy consumption by more than half, while delivering light and vibrancy superior to the old floodlights, which have huge timpani drum-size lenses that had to be changed every so often.
The old floodlights that once lit up the New York City skyline have been retired to a vacant space under reconstruction on the building’s 72nd floor. What will be done with them is also reportedly a secret.
My name is Carey Vanderborg and I'm a journalist working in New York City. I love food, travel, craft beer, live music and writing about all of the above.